Thursday, August 14, 2008

Interview with Baseball America Editor John Manuel (Part Two)

Today we conclude the second half of our interview with the John Manuel, the outstanding editor of the fantastic Baseball America magazine. Again, I thank John for his participation and my friend Athan, John's brother, for helping put this together.

FJB: Is Stephen Strasburg the #1 pick in the 2009 draft? And if so, how good is he?

JM: Yes, and as good or better at this stage of development as Mark Prior was in 2001, when we acclaimed him as the Best College Pitcher Ever. I saw him this summer (just a bullpen, other staffers saw him pitch vs. Canada) . . . suffice it to say all our reports on him are incredible, and he's the top guy for next year.

FJB: In your mind, does Ryan Zimmerman still project as a perennial all-star? Or should we now really expect him to be a very good, but not great, player?

JM: I don't think he ever was considered as good as David Wright, a perennial all-star. Better defender than Wright but not that offensive upside. He's a 20 homer guy, not a 30 homer guy. That's always been who he was supposed to be. If the Nats said otherwise they were deluding themselves. The fact he's a three-hole hitter from Day One in the big leagues tells you the rest of their team was not good enough. He's one of my favorite players but probably should hit fifth for a championship team, not third or fourth.

FJB: Is Joel Hanrahan a closer?

JM: He throws hard . . . closers are about makeup, not stuff, in my opinion, and also about throwing consistent strikes. Relievers have to throw strikes and have no fear of failure. I'm not sure Hanrahan is that guy; more of a setup guy for me. But he was a big time prospect with the Dodgers about 5 years ago, so the stuff isn't really a question. Command is. I root for Iowa guys like him for whatever that's worth.

FJB: How good is Jesus Flores?

JM: I think he's one of three position players on the team (Milledge & Zimmerman are the others) who are current MLB Nats who could be starters on a championship-caliber team. That is a small number. I'm not a Kearns believer so I don't put him in that group. Others I know and respect disagree with me there.

FJB: What do you expect from Austin Kearns over the next 2-3 years?

JM: He's just not as good as Jim Bowden thinks. So he walks a lot . . . big deal. I want my corner OFs to hit for power and be run producers, and he's not that. He's a second-division player at this stage of his career, and peaked as a rookie. Not a guy you build around for me.

FJB: Lightening round—give us your quick reaction, 4-5 words or so, on the following Nationals prospects:

Chris Marrero

JM: Good before hurt; gets a mulligan for '08, don't panic

FJB: Jordan Zimmermann

JM: Top pitcher in organization

FJB: Ross Detwiler

JM: Major question mark, very poor season

FJB: Collin Balester

JM: Solid third or fourth starter; not gonna be a star but solid

FJB: Michael Burgess

JM: Probably top hitting prospect in organization

FJB: Zech Zincola

JM: Never a guy I was a fan off; makeup and conditioning have been questions since his amateur days.

FJB: Jack McGeary

JM: Not a fan of his contract setup/situation. Impossible to judge GCL stats; haven't talked to a scout about him this year.

FJB: Josh Smoker

JM: Still just 18, good that he pitched some this year

FJB: What is the earliest date that an optimistic but not silly Nationals fan could reasonably hope to attend a playoff game at Nationals Park?

JM: Anything's possible, seriously. John Lannan is pretty good; Elijah Dukes was when healthy; if everything comes together, 2011.

FJB: Any other interesting tidbits or thoughts to share about our Washington Nationals?

JM: I get MASN & MASN 2 (no time for the entire MLB package), so even though I'm not a fan per se, I watch more Nats games than I do of any other MLB team (except for the Orioles). So I see why Nats fans are upset. This is a pitiful team at the MLB level this year, and it's hard to judge the performance of any individual player or the manager & coaches when the team is this poor, this low on talent. It's not fair to the players to send out a team with Ronnie Belliard or Aaron Boone hitting 4 or 5 hole. So I understand fans' frustrations, and I hope that things change for the better soon.


Kristen said...

This was great. Thanks for doing it!

Bob L. Head said...

OK, I'm here to waive the white flag. If you're going to post stuff like this, I'm going to read it. Well done.

Bob L. Head said...

Hmmmmn ... I meant "wave the white flag" obviously. Too much legal drafting this afternoon.

Steven said...

@bob--you don't have to waive or wave anything.

I know I was a pretty annoying commenter for a while. I got bored of myself in fact. Hence the blog.

Writing a blog, you have to think of new and interesting things to say. It's a good challenge and has made my fan experience a million times more fun for me.

But you're totally right that SoCH the johnny-one-note commenter was a lot less interesting than the FJB blog (at least I hope so). So keep your flag. It's cool.

Bob L. Head said...

So you're waiving my white flag waving? Cool.

NattyDelite! said...

Steven, well done. This interview is gold. Especially the lightning round, that was very interesting to see.

I would have loved if you had asked him what he thought about Lannan though, and how good are top pitching prospect and top hitting prospect are in the grand scheme of things.

But again, awesome stuff. This place is more fun to check out than NJ on days after a loss. Soo....most of the time.

Steve Shoup said...

Great job getting this interview, I have the utmost respect for Callis and Manuel, as I think they have two great Baseball minds. You did a wonderful job with the questions though I selfishly wish there was a Part Three, Four and Five.

Steven said...

Here's something everyone should note: he said that the most optimistic hope for a playoff game *if everything comes together* is 2011.

That's a long way off, considering that we were talking absolute best case. I was kind of hoping he'd at least throw out 2010 as an outside chance.

Anonymous said...

You are so much better than your blog title suggests.
I am uneasy about threatening someone's job absent first hand knowledge of incompetence or moral or legal problems.

Thank you for an interesting and intertaining diversion. You have so much more to offer than the anti JB slant the title of your blog suggests.

Regardless, thank you for a job well done.


Steve Shoup said...

Yeah I saw the 2011 date, but I wasn't too discouraged. Like he said we are a bad team only 3 regulars that we can count on, with from what he said Dukes a maybe. And while he didn't directly address pitching he seems to like Lannan and Balester. Just going off his comments hopefully by 2011 Marrero and Burgess will be up as well as Zimmermann, a revitalized Detwiler and a Signed Crow. So barring this team making major moves in FA this team won't have the talent to compete until then.